Sunday 30 September 2012

Cateye Rapid 3 Review

With the days getting darker and the clock going back in about a month I decided to add to my fixed Brompton rear light with a Cateye Rapid 3.

Being an all year round commuter, regardless of weather (although snow does stop me riding) in winter I tend to set off n the dark and head home in the dark. The Cateye Rapid 3 is a light I have seen on many bikes on my commute and lots of other Bromptons.

Things a fairly simple. There are three LEDs which give off a very bright and easily seen light. Three modes: rapid; flashing and constant keep things simple.

I like the way it can be mounted vertically or horizontally simply by turning it 90 degrees in the bracket.

I got it for £14.99 which I think is pretty good. It also comes with an AA battery and will last up to 20 hours in the rapid mode I will probably use all the time.

The Write Up for the Richmond to Oxford Trip

This morning I woke up without any aches and pains, no stiffness...nothing. Perhaps I am getting fitter? I start with this as yesterday was my first participation in a London Brompton Club (LBC) ride. It was an event thought of and partially organised by yours truly. It was a day as I have said in blog entries building up to yesterday that I have looked forward to greatly.

Regular readers will know that the Oxford route was a bit of a nemesis for me. I felt prepared this time. Pasta the night before. Lots of water the night before. A good breakfast and plenty of fuel for the journey. I also felt fitter. My mini training runs and eating healthier have all helped me lose a stone in weight from two weeks before the Brompton World Championships. In short I was read for this.

I was up quite early and off to Richmond. I arrived in good time and soon the riders began to filter in.

Andrew aka iCrazyBee
Jon F
Mark L

With Mick B and Amanda to join at Egham

It was great to see so many Bromptonians out in force and the Saturday morning shoppers at Richmond certainly had something to stare at.

I had sent David the route used by the Small Wheels chaps when I went with them from Oxford to London. David very kindly looked at the route, reversed it and tinkered with it. I am very grateful to David for agreeing to take the lead in navigating for this event and he got us to Oxford with no wrong turns. 

We set off shortly after 09:00 before taking a group photo in front of Costa Coffee adjacent to Richmond Station.


With this done we were off, eager and optimistic. With David leading the way we followed and it wasn't too long until the urban sprawl thinned out with each passing mile. Going through Bushy Park we were treated to the sight of deer, quite happily grazing and nonchalant even to the sight of 11 Brompton bikes passing by. 

We were making good progress and soon passed Hampton Court with the weather being particularly kind. There were clear skies, a gentle breeze and a certainly that it would not rain. It was soon after Hampton Court that we began cycling along the banks of the River Thames. The river was busy. Several rowing crews were out in force on still waters as were numerous pleasure craft. 

Despite these idyllic scenes I still could not get over my fear of riding a bike anywhere near water. A front wheel that got away from me under gravel, brought about me sliding and eventually coming to a undignified halt and a graze to my ankle. I must have looked like one of those rodeo riders, desperately clinging on to a wild mustang.

A few miles further on we saw a pub called the 'Monkeys Forehead' and the beaming smile of Mick B and Amanda who were joining us there. This pub was sourced by the Field Marshal of the LBC, Mick and he did an excellent job. Like a Hobbit, I had my second breakfast of the day for the princely sum of £2. It was called the 'light breakfast' but was packed with lots of goodness.

 With 2nd breakfast over we headed off and soon found ourselves in Windsor Great Park. The polo grounds were being maintained and we passed the clubhouse and spotted another photo opportunity.

As we pressed on we started to hit serious countryside and the open road. Sections of road stretched for miles. At the 20 mile mark we started to encounter some climbs. They were sustained and proved demanding. It was also at this point that we were treated to copious amounts of Red Kites soaring overhead. I chance they were swooping in to take in the sight of 13 Brompton riders. Yellowhammer could be seen and heard in the many hedgerow that lined the road and Jackdaws sang in chorus, as if to encourage on further.

As we passed a quaint village an elderly couple could be heard saying, "oh look, Brompton's!" You certainly wouldn't get that if you were riding a Specialized or a Cannondale.

Not too long after our second breakfast the hobbit came out in us again as we spotting a lovely pub, recommended to the lead group by a local who gave us directions to it.

We reached Henley Upon Thames and saw no less that two wedding parties getting married on a near perfect day.

Mick and a few of the others were starting to feel the pace and a lead group would ride out and wait for the others to catch up. This worked pretty well but looking back I feel very guilty about the pace that was set. It was too fast. Mick was tenacious and his humour and determination was something all could admire.

At 38 miles the lead group hit the mother of all hills. This was a sustained and serious incline. Mike was off in to the distance and Mark W and I tried our best to get up the hill without walking. Not too far from the top I was off my bike walking, with Mark joining thereafter. It was tough!

This was the start of the massive hill and my goodness was it tough going

At the top Mark and I get our breath back!

At the top of the hill. Appropriately named?

Pressing on we made it to the outskirts of Oxford and eventually the gleaming spires. We'd done it. Richmond to Oxford done. We headed for the train station were we said our goodbyes to those who had had enough. The rest of us retired to a great little restaurant called Giraffe before heading back to the station and London.

At Paddington we said our goodbyes and iCrazyBee and I were the last to leave. I am sure you will read of further adventures with my partner in crime quite soon.

It was a great day and more than a challenge. I felt pretty good at the end and a great deal better than I did the first time I attempted this. I really enjoyed riding in a group and realised a long held ambition of being in a Brompton peloton. 

I am however suffering from a little guilt. I wager the pace was too brisk, too rapid. This was meant to be a LBC social ride, which it was but perhaps I got carried away dispelling my own demons of riding with 'Oxford' in the title and an inability to curb my competitive nature? 

A big thank you to all who turned up and special mention to David, Mick and Geoff - you know why.
My thoughts now turn to what's next? One thing is certain, riding with a group of Bromptonians is an addictive substance that leaves one wanting more.

My ride data can be viewed if you follow the link: Richmond to Oxford Data

Friday 28 September 2012

The eve of the big ride!

This week has dragged somewhat. I have been looking forward to tomorrow's Richmond to Oxford ride for some time. Ever since I had the idea to do it I knew it would be something to look forward to after the great Brompton World championships.

When I first posted the idea that I'd like to do this ride, I hoped for maybe 4 - 5 other Bromptonians. What I have now is at least 12 other adventurous types who will no doubt have a great time. For me there was no last minute prep as I knew a busy week was ahead. I did all my prep last week and merely the finishing touches done today.

I didn't intend to write anything on the blog this evening but sleep proved impossible when thinking about tomorrow. With eyes now getting tired, I will sign off as I have an early start. I think tomorrow is going to be a memorable day and look out for a write up.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Hardcore Bromptonians

Regular readers will know that I have referred to a work colleague who rides a Brompton as being hardcore.

He has a single speed titanium with Kojak tyres permanently on all year round. He uses his Brompton for commuting and nothing else. Talk of cycling events such as the Brompton World Championships, Nocturne etc.., have not induced a glimmer of interest.

However, today I commented that at the weekend I would be cycling to Oxford with at least 11 other Brompton riders. For the first time in two years I detected slight interest. He asked a few questions about it but when asked if he wanted to come, he merely told me that his Brompton was merely for commuting. A shame really as Brompton bikes are so much more than that! What do you think?

iPhone 5

I am an Apple geek. Apple fan boy. Whatever Apple moniker you care to throw at me, I am it.

Owning an iPhone 4 I bypassed the updated 4S and waited like many for whatever came next. Last Friday after work I ventured to the Apple Store in Regents Street with no intention of buying one - getting there after work would mean they'd all be sold out, which they were. I just wanted to have a look at one in the flesh and be part of the buzz.

I can report that it looked amazing and having quite a few pounds worth of Apple vouchers I decided that I'd try and get one at some point.

Somehow I ended up at Brent Cross an hour later for something totally unconnected. Somehow within 25 minutes of arriving at Brent Cross, I ended up standing at the front of a queue outside the Apple Store there! Somehow within 15 minutes of standing in that queue I came out of said shop with my new iPhone 5!

I was very happy and excited but didn't have a nano sim to put inside it. (Nano sim being even smaller than the micro sim in the iPhone 4). A trip to a Vodafone shop and I had my number transferred and I was set up and ready to go.

I opted for the slate black version. First thing I noticed wash the weight. It is substantially lighter. Next was the size of the screen. An extra row of icons can now be fitted on to the screen. In short it is gorgeous and the brightness and colours have had a little tweaking. Once I started to use the phone, all appeared faster and more agile. Web pages on 3G or wifi rendered very, very quickly and side by side with my iPhone 4 it was noticeably faster. Battery life is also much, much better.

Having had the phone for almost a week it had been a constant companion and incredibly useful. The camera/video camera is excellent and the new panoramic feature on the camera is a welcome addition.

I did not have Siri on my old iPhone and was never that impressed with it. On the iPhone 5 it is excellent and usable. So much so, this blog entry is being entirely written using Siri, punctuation and all!

I suspect another iPhone will be out next year but I'm sure this will serve me well for quite a few. My next update might be the iPhone 7S as this one is damned good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Bicycles - all shapes and sizes

Last weekend I visited Whipsnade Zoo and while there saw some rather interesting bikes.

As you can see it was quite a sight. The owner had imported it from India and I heard that many owners in the Indian sub continent customise their bikes in this way.

The seat caught my attention. It was a very old Brooks but look at it. Brilliant.

The bikes were there along with other vehicles in similar livery to celebrate an elephant weekend to support conservation work in the region and beyond.

I cannot say hand on heart that you'd find me cycling down High Street Kensington on one of these but I really enjoyed seeing one in the flesh and not just on a travel programme.

Richmond to Oxford on a Brompton - Final Preparation

Well, the day of reckoning is almost here. On Saturday I travel to Oxford with at least 11 other intrepid Brompton riders. It should be should be better than good!

Today I made a dash to a cycle shop to try and get a new pair of waterproof over trousers and some front and rear LED lights. I fail on both but will try another shop tomorrow. My Altura Night Vision over trousers have served me really well since I bought them. They have been through a hell of a lot and being an all weather commuter, two winters. That has meant a huge amount of rain!

On Monday I saw the first signs that they needed replacing as after my commute when I took them off, I saw some wet patches on my knee and thighs. I have reproofed them a few times but there is only so much you can do.

My intention was to by the same again, albeit the updated version. Unfortunately, the shop I went to didn't have my size. I will try again tomorrow. I will also look for the LED lights. Apart from that i am ready for Saturday, as far as one can be for things like this.

I will take my Garmin Edge 200 which I will use to plot my route on a map once I return home. I plan to travel as light as I can so it might be iPhone for pictures but I will possibly take the GoPro for some video shots.

Well apart from tonight it will be one more sleep until the big day and I am getting quite excited about it. I was going to plan a ride in London to see the sights etc.., but discarded this idea quite rapidly. First I didn't think it was demanding enough and second I thought a longer rider would bring out the spirit of adventure in other Brompton riders - which it seems to have done.

My partner in crime, iCrazyBee will be out in force and it will be great to ride with the legend that is BumbleBee again. Our last sojourn was the Brompton World Championships and both of use said that we would be riding a great deal more in 2013. This is perhaps the start of further adventures.

Of course there will be other Brompton riders and this is another highlight. Being a Brompton owner is almost like being part of a club and it will be fun to see other owners and chew the fat as we cycle along.

So, if you have a Brompton you might want to try and get a small group together and go out for a ride in your local area. It might be the start of something quite special?

Monday 24 September 2012

Overtaking road bikes on a Brompton

If you own a Brompton I am sure you have done this! Tried to overtake a road bike? Come on, admit it.  We both know that you have either done it or thought about it at length.

What induces me to do this I do not know? Part of my short commute has a fairly long incline. I regularly see riders of road bikes, out of their saddles driving hard up this incline to get to the top and the liberation that is, the other side. It it at the bottom of this incline that the boy racer comes out in me and upon seeing a road bike go past, I find it hard to resist the temptation to try and overtake.

More times than no, I am successful. This is because the Brompton gearing is, well, bloody good. Many a road bike user had turned with disgust to see me nonchalantly riding past them, as casual as you like, wearing full formal shirt, tie and all the trimmings. The more lycra they wear the more satisfaction I derive as I glide past - in the saddle, not out of it. Of course once on the other side they soon ride off into the distance, but the psychological damage caused must surely last for years?

It is a terrible thing to admit but there I have done it. Now, I ask you the question again, have you, yes you out there with a Brompton, ever tried to overtake a road bike?

Wet weather gear on a Brompton

I recently received a comment from a new reader to this blog about what to wear when raining. I will endeavour to share what I do, in the hope that it helps others. (I can be selfless you know).

I have an office in which I can not only store my beloved Brompton bikes but can change privately if required. I have to wear a jacket and tie every day to work - pretty formal stuff. I keep several pairs of shoes at work and change into them when I get there.

If it is raining I have a waterproof jacket and waterproof over trousers (both by Altura) which serve me very well as I can wear everything but my jacket (which you guessed, I keep several in my office) underneath. I rarely arrive dishevelled and it takes only a few minutes to change.

When going home, if the wet weather gears needs to go on, it does. If not, it goes straight into the S or C bag.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Getting ready for Richmond to Oxford

Next Saturday I will be cycling to Oxford on my Orange Brompton with other Brompton owners. This is something I am greatly looking forward to and it should be a brilliant day out.

It will be almost overcoming the demons of the past as regular readers will undoubtedly be aware that the last time I attempted this journey - albeit the other way Oxford to London I came a cropper. A combination of being in a rush, naivety, stupidity and only having a Mars bar for breakfast, at about 35 miles I was going to faint like a lady from a Jane Austin novel!

I will not be making the same mistake! Since then I have been pretty good about fuelling up before big rides or rides I know will be demanding. I am also hoping that the training I have put in will also help. I am definitely fitter, that is for sure and this time it will be great to have another 11 Brompton riders with me. 

I will try and get lots of pics and some video footage - especially of Brompton bikes in a peleton. Just imagine that!

On a Brompton on the rain.

Well, the summer - what we've had of it has well and truly gone. It I'd raining heavily and tomorrow will be the start of the commute in rain.

I don't really mind rain. As a child I was conditioned by my mum to actually like it. In our family the rain stopped nothing and we ventured out in it regardless. This has transferred to me and I view the rain with a mix of nostalgia, stoicism and optimism.

It would be true to say that I really like rain I know that's a very stupid thing to say for many of you out there, but I do. I also feel much better prepared for wet weather this year.

The great thing about riding a Brompton is it just makes you feel better. (I'm beginning to sound like one of those Apple adverts for the new iPhone 5.

So, if you don't normally ride your bicycle in the wet I suggest you give it a go, you might feel better about it than you think.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

I am a walking Brompton Advert!

I really should be sponsored by Brompton as I am a walking advert! There I have said it and got it off my chest.

I chance I can hear some of you say, what an unfortunate way to be greeted. I say this, as in the time I have owned a Brompton I have sung and continue to sing its praises to all who ask. I have managed to get at least two other members of staff where I work to at least start cycling to work - with a view to getting a Brompton.

Today while at the post office I was enthusiastically greeted by a fellow Brompton owner who was very keen to show me his new Brompton and to thank me for telling him about mine. I must say that I have no recollection of speaking to this gentleman.  He knew me however and as he retold the story of how he had asked all about my Brompton, in the very same high street and was so impressed by my enthusiasm for it, he went out and bought himself one.

His was a classic black M3R and he told me that he had bought it via a bike to work scheme, which for him had taken quite a long time to get everything finalised. He had only had his Brompton for two weeks and was already loving it. He plans to get one for his wife for Christmas.

Apparently, he had seen me on my commute to work and noticed that I had two different Brompton Bikes. When the opportunity to have a chat came about he did. I still can't recall this but I do get lots of people asking me about the Brompton and I always leave them with the thought that they should get one too. So I really should be sponsored by Brompton but in truth most Brompton users should be as most are just like me!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Richmond Park to Oxford on a Brompton ,,

Later this month I will join an intrepid bunch of Fellow Brompton owners to a little sojourn I thought up.

We will travel from Richmond Park not too far from London to Oxford, some 63 miles away. It will not be for the faint hearted but we will travel through some of the most beautiful countryside in England.

It will almost certainly be a day to remember but just in case I had made some medals to commemorate this special event.

The medals aren't worth a great deal but I hope that they will provide a bit of fun and laughter long after the ride has taken place. The ribbons are white and orange. An interesting choice of colour I am sure you'd agree!

Regular readers might remember me going from Oxford to London with the Small Wheels Big Difference chaps. I will blog a little more about this ride the nearer I get to it but in any event I will try and get lots of photos as we stop for rest breaks. Should be good and I am really looking forward to it.

Lamy Al Star Ruby Red

Regular readers will know that I have more than a soft spot for Lamy pens. I recently got a new 'Special Edition' of their Al Star range of pens. This one is Ruby Red and it is a little stunner.

Lamy's range of pens are vast. I really like these Al Star pens. This particular version is a great colour and of many Al Stars I have it is my favourite.

The pictures don't do the colour of this pens justice and it is a wonderful ruby colour as its name suggests. The Al Star is made of lightweight aluminium and feels great in the hand. It is a good size and balanced well.

I am a fan of Lamy nibs and the Al Star shares the same nibs as the Safari range. What this effectively means is that you can change your nib easily and in doing so, it is almost like having another pen.

The nib is stainless steel and of high quality and precision made. They can be bought online for less than £4 which is a bargain. I own quite a few fountain pens and a few that retail for over £200 each. I have to admit that the only pen I ever seem to use is a Lamy and I prefer them to the more expensive ones. They are that good!

You can pick one of these up from good high street shops or online for about £24. If you want one of these special edition versions, you had better be quick as they are only around for a limited time so get one while you can.

Thursday 6 September 2012


I have now reached quite a milestone for this humble little blog. Now over 50,000 page views. Really pleased about this!

Monday 3 September 2012

Training Run - alternating Brompton Bikes

One of the great things about being lucky enough to have two very different Brompton bikes is the ability to alternative which one you ride whenever you fell like it. (I say that although my S2L Raw Lacquer has yet to go outside if it is raining or even if there is a hint of rain).

My training runs for want of a better expression for yesterday and today are as follows:

Yesterday - Orange M6L

Time - 31:26

Distance - 8.44 miles

Average Speed - 16.12 mph

Maximum Speed - 26.4 mph

Calories - 564

Today - Raw Lacquer S2L

Time - 30:43

Distance - 8.45 miles

Average Speed - 16.51 mph

Maximum Speed - 27.49 mph

Calories - 537

I do find it strange that my speed and average speed on the S2L is better than on my 6x speed? Perhaps I am gradually getting fitter? Not sure about it yet.

The jury is still out on which I prefer - S type / M type, 2x speed / 6x speed but for the moment I love having the option of both.

Sunday 2 September 2012

The Walking Dead Compendium - Volume One

This particular post has nothing whatsoever to do with Brompton bikes, photography, London, or Apple products. It is about a graphic novel I stumbled across.

The graphic novel in question is. 'The Walking Dead Compendium - Volume One.' Now I do have to make something very clear. I have never bought a comic let alone a graphic novel. I have never had the slightest interest in purchasing anything comic-like from the 'Forbidden Planet' in London, despite passing it to and from the way to work for about fives years, when I worked in that part of London. I have however purchased this particular one.

This is totally brilliant!

The television series, 'The Walking Dead' has been really good and I've enjoyed watching it. I was looking on Amazon to see when the second series of the television programme, was out and saw this. I don't know what made me buy it, but I did. Apparently, the television show is based on the graphic novel of the same name that was published on a monthly basis.

Compendium One is 48 issues worth and over 1000 pages thick! Since I got it I haven't put it down. If you have seen the television show, you will see some similarities as you turn the pages but there are significant differences.

The artwork - all suitably black and white - is excellent and the storyline is brilliant. You can see why it made its way to the television.

I am probably 2/10 of the way through so far and enjoying every page. The pages are bound really well and the paper is high quality. This is approaching four years worth of monthly graphic novels and represents great value for money.

So engrossed in it have I become (that sounded like Master Yoda) that I have preordered Compendium Two, which is out in October.

If you like your zombie films or the television show, you really cannot go wrong with this. If you think you wouldn't like a graphic novel, think again.

Updates from Brompton

If you read my two blog entries for the Brompton Factory Ride, you will know that we were given a few clues to possible updates for Brompton bikes in 2013.

One of the most dramatic changes looks to be the brake levers. Now I am aware that the current levers aren't a favourite to many but I haven't had a problem with them. These do look a great deal better and more ergonomic.

The grips have a colour change and I am not sure if the actual material of them has changed.

Another very big change is the chain set. Looks better doesn't it. Again a more modern and efficient design.

The rims get a makeover too and from what I have heard they will be double rimmed.

Looks as if there is a Brompton water bottle and I'm sure it has a clever way of attaching it to ones bike.

Lastly, the toolkit that fits ingeniously inside the tube and can be carried discretely as one rides happily along, looks set to be on sale soon - hopefully! I will probably get one at some point and knowing me not want to use it.

Exciting times. For those of use not upgrading to a new Brompton I am sure that all of these new parts will eventually be available to buy and retrofit - one of the great things about owning a Brompton.